WHITMAN — In the end, it took less time for voters at the Monday, Dec. 2 special Town Meeting to complete the work of acting on the four-article warrant than it did to achieve a quorum.
When voter number 150 entered the Town Hall Auditorium just before 8 p.m. — the session was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. — she received a warm round of applause.
Less than 23 minutes later, voters had transferred funds to pay an engineering bill for repairs to Hobart Pond; accepted another transfer to fund accrued vacation time for former Police Chief Scott Benton; and OK’d an appropriation to pay for sewer bills to Brockton and the engineering, consulting and permitting costs involved in repairs to Whitman’s sewer force main. A fourth article calling for a transfer of $7,209 from the law account to the Animal Control account was passed over.
A $900,000 appropriation from sewer-water retained earnings to pay $121,676.23 in additional sewer bills to Brockton as well as $88,083.70 for preliminary work on a sewer repair expected total of about $8.2 million.
Lynam said the sewer bill was the result of renegotiation of a contract with Brockton begun in 2015 and tentatively agreed on within the last month.
The cost includes capital costs Whitman has not paid in the past and is now responsible for, and the remainder of the transfer will fund the planning and design for a new 16,000-foot pipe in the ground to replace a pipe that has failed twice already.
The Hobart Pond article transferred $4,500 from the Norfolk County Agricultural H.S. in the May 1019 annual Town Meeting to pay a prior year’s bill to Collins Engineers Inc., for their work
A resident asked why the transfer was necessary and if it would be repeated in the future. The funds were intended to cover funds owed an engineering firm that helped the town repair a breach in the Hobart Pond dam.
“Each year, we have to make an appropriation the first Monday in May to pay for whatever students are going to Norfolk Aggie,” Town Administrator Frank Lynam explained. “We don’t necessarily know who’s going until June.”
Lynam explained the town always has to estimate that two students will attend the school for budgeting purposes. This year there was one surplus student and the line was a “reasonable place” from which to transfer money. A 90-percent threshold was required to pass the article, and voters passed it with 97 percent voting in favor.
A second transfer — of $15,500 — from Norfolk Aggie involved in the 2019 Town Meeting vote, as well as a $22,818.57 transfer from the 2019 law account to fund the police chief salary line for the balance of fiscal 2020.
Lynam amended the article to correct a misprint in the warrant from $37,918.57 to $37,318.57, but a voter pointed out that the figure still didn’t add up until it was further amended to $38,318.57.
A voter asked, once the amendment was approved, if it was designed to pay unused sick leave time, which Lynam said was not the case. He explained the transfer would settle up accrued, unused vacation time and noted that the Board of Selectmen had recently voted to limit the carryover of unused vacation time to no more than nine days per year.